Dr. Perry Alexander

The University of Kansas

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Swept Away - Marc Johnson & Elaine Elias

I have a very soft spot in my musical heart for the classic jazz trio

The first two tracks, Swept Away and It’s Time are nice ballads. Quiet, contemplative with the trio working well together. Wonderful to listen to if not horribly distinctive. On the third track, One Hundred and One Nights, the trio really takes off. This uptempo, modern romp is fantastic and will have you bouncing in your chair. It has the feel of other work my Marc Johnson - particularly his collaboration with Lyle Mays on The Sound of Summer Running. I love the freshness of the track and it joyous pace.

The fourth track, When the Sun Comes Up adds a tenor and slows things down again. This is not a ballad, but a sultry down-tempo grind. It ventures outside just enough to be interesting.

B Is For Butterfly goes back to a more modern and melodic place. Again sounding like something from a Pat Metheny album. It ventures somewhat nearer to what one might call new age, but thankfully not too close. I must admit this track is more in line with what I expected from the entire album.

Midnight Blue goes back to a more sultry vibe, again adding the tenor to the mix. This is not my favorite track on the album and I don’t go back to it often, but it is a nice down tempo number. I guess I want my piano trio back. Moments keeps the tenor and goes back to classic jazz ballad. It is the one track using the tenor that I like quite a bit. The tenor isn’t bad, I just tuned in for a trio.

I can only assume that Sirens of Titan is a reference to the excellent Vonnegut novel of the same name. It starts with a slow intro that suggests another ballad, but then goes up tempo with a modern twist. The sax is still there and for my tastes there is just a bit too much cool in the jazz here. Still, a nice number that I don’t skip when I listen to the album. Kind of makes me think of a sitcom theme song in a good way.

I’ll skip to the last track, a bass solo on the classic southern folk song Shenandoah. I’m not a big fan of bass (or drum) solos, but this is gorgeous. It is very quiet and you’ll have to turn up the volume, but please do so. Working on an acoustic upright, Johnson plays with the melody only enough to be interesting. Slow and contemplative, this is a perfect end to a really nice album.

This is definitely trio jazz, but with a nice modern twist. I didn’t expect to like it nearly as much as I do. Highly recommended.